Believe me, friends, all I want for Israel is what's best for Israel: salvation, nothing less. I want it with all my heart and pray to God for it all the time. I readily admit that the Jews are impressively energetic regarding God—but they are doing everything exactly backwards. They don't seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right that is salvation is God's business, and a most flourishing business it is. Right across the street they set up their own salvation shops and noisily hawk their wares. After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting instead on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it.
The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it's not so easy—every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story—no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. So what exactly was Moses saying?
The word that saves is right here,
as near as the tongue in your mouth,
as close as the heart in your chest.
It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—"Jesus is my Master"—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"
Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. "Everyone who calls, 'Help, God!' gets help."
Oh my! There’s so much in here that I want to unpack, teach, talk about. I feel like I could spend days on this passage. Perhaps that is the beauty of the Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer? It requires me to read and think and then move forward to the next passage. It allows me to come back year after year to the same passages and they can hit different at different seasons of my life.
So what about this morning? How is this hitting? This line, “Say the welcoming word to God—’Jesus is my Master’—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say, right out loud: ‘God has set everything right between him and me!’”
I know right!
What I love about this is the way that Peterson brings out the embodied aspect of our faith. Too many times in my life I have found that my faith becomes totally intellectualized. It is very easy for me to make it into a series of truisms, data points, and logical steps. This call to embrace to Jesus body and soul, embracing God with our whole being, this is something that grabs my attention.
Because Christian faith is not an office faith. It is not a faith that is grounded in the offices of academics and “scholar” pastors. No, the Christian faith has historically always been a faith that is expressed and lived on the street. It’s a shopkeepers faith. It’s the faith of working person. It is the faith of the everyday and the mundane.
Do you ever notice in the stories of Jesus that there were a lot of dinner parties? There was also a lot of walking and talking. Sure, there were miracles, but they are almost always in context with an extended presence with people.
When we embrace Jesus as Lord with our entire being we will find ourselves not locked in prayer closets and inside the congregational building every time the doors are open. No, we will find ourselves present with our neighbors, co-workers, family, friends, and strangers.
Our faith is embodied, lived, acted upon. God sets all things right between us and him and then we follow God into the world to bless it by loving well.
What are you waiting for? Go!